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Principled Technologies responds to Intel Core i9 and Ryzen benchmark inconsistencies

We talked about the Intel 9th generation series and its marketing shenanigans emphasizing only on gaming while ignoring production/editing/non-gaming workloads that use Hyper-Threading, an instruction set that is always enabled on the Core i5 and Core i7. AMD has SMT (Simultaneous Threading) on the Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7. I hardly looked at the numbers because it was a commissioned report for Intel and it had inconsistencies.

Many did talk about its inconsistencies because few sites simply took the numbers and accepted its face-value. This lead many journalists, reviewers and youtubers question Principled Technologies, the company that made this report for Intel. We also emailed Intel India who did not respond yet. We had equal access to the information because of the livestream which included the promo video with Principled Technologies report link.

Lack of fire within the Indian PC tech media

There is some heartbeat in Intel India’s team since they sent Jamshed Avari from NDTV Gadgets360 to Intel’s event in New York. Its a standard practice like every other journalist around the world. But unlike other journalists, the whole write-up is just another re-worded press release with a few missing stuff. It does not talk about its soldered IHS or referring Intel Z390 chipset’s wireless standard as a part of CNVi, let alone question Principled Technologies report- something that was in front of him. It is because of such lack of research, emphasis and consumer-centric analysis brings a bad name in our line of work. We hope that the passion and tenacity are (re)ignited for the sake of their readers. You do have some spark because atleast you disclosed the travel arrangement for the event is covered by Intel.

Credibility brings reputation and traffic- if that is your driving force (its one of mine!). Sources like Gamers Nexus, Hardware Unboxed, Bitwit, Paul’s Hardware and PCWorld- to name a few- did their jobs. They even collaborated with each other because naturally, it will be the same audience. Here in India, it is just the two of us. Because otherwise others don’t do the right thing. In one corner, one regurgitates information from multiple sources, similarly creating write-ups like yours. Others are worse- simply provide shilling service as a contractor. Since nobody will do the right thing, the two of us have an incredible opportunity to bank on it. You were the last(ish?) editor for CHIP India before it sunk under its own weight. I am sure and hopeful you will agree on it and do your bit. Here at Hardware BBQ, we’re good at re-igniting the passion by pissing people off! I am not trying to do that to you. But what are you doing, really?

Principled Technologies and its response

But due to the same reports by multiple sources who did cover the event and watched the livestream, Principled Technologies responded to the problems:

Game Mode

PT: Use of “Game Mode” on the AMD Ryzen™ 7 2700X: Some inquiries we have received concern the use of the Ryzen utility and the number of active cores in the AMD-based systems. Based on AMD’s recommendations and our initial testing on the Threadripper processors, we found installing the AMD Ryzen Master utility and enabling the Game Mode increased most results. For consistency purposes, we did that for all AMD systems across Threadripper™ and Ryzen™. We are now doing additional testing with the AMD systems in Creator Mode. We will update the report with the new results.

One of the inconsistencies on the AMD platform was the use of its Game Mode for AMD Ryzen 7 2700X which reduces its 8-core/16-thread core count to 4-core-8-thread. Naturally, this would lead to a handicapped comparison. Principled Technologies claims it wasn’t being dishonest and therefore will update its test results with the Game Mode function disabled.

To Principled Technology’s credit, they did mention enabling Game Mode in its report. A benefit of a doubt can be given to them. They should have been more careful and have that hands-on experience with AMD platform before comparing it with Intel. Intel has paid them to do the report, but its the report and therefore its name that would be used to build the marketing materials.

Memory Speeds and Timings

PT: Memory speeds: To have complete parity across all systems, and to allow the Intel  Core™ i9 X-series and AMD Ryzen Threadripper to fully utilize memory bandwidth, we used 4 16GB DDR4 DIMMs on all configurations

Memory speed and timing also would affect the proper comparison between the two. For both platforms, they used (4x16GB kit) 64GB Corsair Vengeance RGB DDR4-3000. Its unrealistic anyone would use 64GB on a gaming/streaming/recording system. But AMD Threadripper and HEDT platforms had quad-channel support. There should have been two separate reports ideally- 16GB on the mainstream and 32GB on the quad-channel enabled platforms (8GB per stick configuration.

On the Intel platforms Core i9-9900K and, i9-9900X and i9-9980XE, it used 2,666MHz and for AMD Ryzen platforms it used 2933MHz. The timings were not mentioned. If the DCOP on the AMD platforms used terrible timings, that would be an issue. No information about its latency was given. The only information given is as follows:

    • MSI Z390-A Pro motherboard (i9-9900K)
      • Load Optimized BIOS defaults
      • Enabled: Extreme Memory Profile (X.M.P.)
      • DRAM Frequency set to DDR4-2666
    • Asus Prime X299-Deluxe motherboard (i9-9900X, i9-9980XE) Load Optimized BIOS default
      • Enabled: Extreme Memory Profile (X.M.P.)
      • Disabled ASUS MultiCore Enhancement to use stock Intel multicore settings
      • DRAM Frequency set to DDR4-2666
      • Installed Intel® Turbo Boost Max driver/utility
    • Asus Prime Z370-A (i7-8086K, i7-8700K)
      • Load Optimized BIOS defaults
      • Enabled: Extreme Memory Profile (X.M.P.)
      • Disabled ASUS MultiCore Enhancement to use stock Intel multicore settings
      • DRAM Frequency set to DDR4-2666
      • Power saving & Performance mode, set to Performance
    • Asus Prime X399-A (Threadripper™ 2990WX, Threadripper™ 2950X)
      • Load Optimized BIOS defaults
      • Verify that D.O.C.P is selected for AMD-equivalent memory settings to XMP
      • Performance Enhancer, set to Default
      • Disabled overclocking enhancement
      • DRAM frequency set to DDR4-2933
      • Set Core Performance Boost to Auto
      • Set performance bias to None
      • Installed Ryzen Master utility
    • Asus Prime X470 Pro (Ryzen™ 7 2700X)
      • Load Optimized BIOS defaults
      • Verify that D.O.C.P is selected for AMD-equivalent memory settings to XMP
      • DRAM frequency set to DDR4-2933
      • Set performance bias to None
      • Installed Ryzen Master utility

Different CPU coolers for AMD and Intel platforms

PT: Cooler choice: We chose Noctua for the CPU coolers, due to having almost identical systems in the NH-U14S (Intel) and NH-U14S TR4-SP3 (AMD), which allowed us to maintain a comparable thermal profile. Because we were not performing any overclocking on any configuration, and because AMD has said it was a good cooler, we stuck with the stock AMD Ryzen 7 2700X Wraith Prism cooler.

The choice of the CPU coolers was questioned since Noctua NH-U14S CPU cooler was used on Intel Core i9-9900K. But it used AMD Wraith Prism CPU cooler for the Ryzen 2 2700X. No word about the CPU coolers used for Intel Extreme Edition CPUs and Threadripper 2. The NH-U14S does not support these CPU platforms. It is compatible with Ryzen 2 2700’s AM4+ with an additional socket kit. New kits include it by default.

The supportive argument was that Intel did not include a CPU cooler, while AMD did. This is true, but it could have used the NH-U14S on the AMD platform. While the benchmarks did not include overclocked performance (or overclocking potential), both CPUs had boost clock speeds. Therefore the clock speed will jump between base and boost clock. At the very least, the testing equipment should have been standard just like memory kits and its profile, graphics card, storage and operating system version.

Noctua does have an AMD Ryzen Threadripper-specific CPU cooler called NH-U14S TR4-SP3 because of Threadripper’s larger IHS. The mainstream CPU cooler version wouldn’t fit on it. But Threadripper CPUs do not have a cooler bundled with it. There is a Coolermaster TR4 Wraith CPU cooler but that is sold separately. AM4+’s CPU cooler naturally wouldn’t fit on the TR4. There’s no word on that.

1920 x 1080 Resolution

Resolution settings: One goal of this study was to test the CPUs and their graphics subsystems, not the GPUs, so we ran the tests at the most common gaming resolution (62.06%), 1920×1080, according to the Steam Hardware Survey. This allowed us to minimize any GPU-based bottlenecks on the rendering pipeline.

Principled Technologies justified the use of 1080p based on the Steam’s hardware survey. What it did not notice was that the GTX 1080 Ti wasn’t even the top 10 most used graphics card, it was on the 11th. When you scroll the entire list, the graphics card options above and below GTX 1080Ti would imply those users will be not be using 1080p. The 1440p resolution on number 14.

Principled TechnologieS shouldn’t have used 64GB- or 16GB. It makes sense to use 16GB for AMD Ryzen 2 2700X and Core i9-9900K since that standard has a 31.07% increase. It should have included Core i5/Core i7 since mostly were using GTX 1060, GTX 1050Ti GTX 1070, GTX 970 Ti and GTX 1080, who would likely use a mid-end/base model mainstream SKU. The Steam argument doesn’t exactly hold any weight. Most of the users wouldn’t pick up Core i9-9900K. Most gamers don’t livestream and record gameplay at the same time.

The GTX 1080Ti bottlenecking on the 1440p resolution? Even with gaming workloads over streaming and recording? Unlikely! The purpose of the report is to show CPU-bound performance in that situation and not the graphics card. The report should include an ideal resolution based on what kind of displays and resolutions such buyers will have.

Error on motherboard naming

Originally, we were the ones who pointed the mistype in the report and shared it with Bitwit and Pauls Hardware. The report did not highlight the actual motherboard used for AMD Ryzen 7 2700X and the Threadripper CPUs 2990wx and 2950x.

Restrictive embargos, cherrypicking PRs and pre-order

Embargos on the reviews are placed even when the pre-orders are taken and such information will be blindly used. We can say this for certain because regional marketing and sales managers cherry pick and display information in “Gamer meets” which aren’t live streamed. Nvidia did something similar with shady graphs and performance measure units. AMD RX Vega64 display in its press launch in Mumbai holds equal doubt when they had it next to a GTX 1070. We know a few who ‘reviewed’ it on-the-fly. But that did not work because nothing was mentioned- system settings is an important part. Their credibility is in the shithole, not mine! Usually, people will ignore even if companies use these numbers. Not here because of the amount of detail and a presence of a commissioned contractor. To be fair, Principled Technologies could have stayed quiet about the issue or not have its name not be on the reports. But they responded and said they will make the necessary changes. It did include all that settings which helped to find those inconsistencies. But it is the numbers what Intel is making such claim about Core i9-9900K’s performance.

Everyone is guilty somewhere somehow at some point throughout its existence. This practice is no different than AMD and Nvidia. It is unfortunate because it builds a level of distrust between the consumers and the manufacturer. They all can make good products. Its when they step a back somewhere or have no reasonable justification which creates a problem. It needs to stop creating issues unnecessarily since this is a community-driven ecosystem. Why cut off Core i7 9700K and Core i5-9600K from the livestream? You know everybody is going to talk about the lack of Hyper-Threading instruction set.

Principled Technologies responds to Intel Core i9 and Ryzen benchmark inconsistencies from IndianGaming

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